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Thread: Newbie roasting decaf

  1. #1
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    Newbie roasting decaf

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi All,
    I am rather new to the “extreme” coffee thing, I have drank coffee for years, since I was in college, but only recently found coffeegeeks, and then I found coffeesnobs yesterday.

    But, I am an engineer, and when I figured you could roast your own coffee cheaply in a hot air popcorn maker, I could not resist. I have roasted 4-5 batches so far.
    I am using a modified Popcorn Pumper to roast, I have the older, 1400W version. I added another cord, to power the fan separately, added a thermocouple, and disabled the thermal fuse. It only reached around 100C with the fuse in the circuit. I also have a variac connected to the heater, so I can control the heat in the pumper.

    Looking for tips to roast decaf. I drink mostly decaf, and started out roasting decaf, even though I know it is harder to roast. I have roasted the Ethiopian Sidamo and Mexican Oaxaca Pluma, both from Sweet Marias. Results were pretty good, but not outstanding. First couple roasts where around 20 minutes long, but the last couple, I increased the heat, and brought time down to around 15 minutes. I think I stopped all of the roasts 3-4 minutes after 1st crack.

    My last roast was a “regular” bean from Sweet Marias (can’t remember the name, and I’m on a trip right now). This roast was really good. Also stopped a few minutes after 1st crack, but it was a little darker then my decaf roasts. This roast had a more chocolate taste, with good body. My decaf roasts have been more fruity, and most have been a little brighter then I like.

    I haven’t had time to roast in the past week, but I am going to try roasting a little longer after 1st crack, and see if that helps. I also bought some other decaf beans from SM to try.

    Any other suggestions.

    I need to end with a confession. One reason I am posting is so I can have one post, and then send a PM to find out if I can get the CS data logger meter sent to the US. The meter with the USB port, and software looks like a great way to track roasts, I have to log by hand now. But, I really would appreciate any suggestions to help improve my decaf roasts, to get what I am looking for.

    Randy

  2. #2
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    Re: Newbie roasting decaf

    Hey Randy,
    Just my 2 cents worth, and i havent had a massive exposure to many variants of Decaf but i will share what i know at this stage,

    I bought about 5kgs of Mexico Decaf from Di Bella, they told me that it will roast about 10C hotter than average and will look about CS 12 at second crack with alot of shine, not oil but shine in the bean,

    So off i went to roast this bean, first crack a little hard to hear, but SC was quite loud and fortunately i was brave enough to listen for SC and not get too concerned about the colour and look of the bean, as it was as i said about CS12 (very dark) at SC, it is an amazing bean with incredible body with some lovely chocolate flavors pulled just after SC!

    So to Conclude,

    Roasts about 10C hotter
    Roasts Dark and shiney
    SC prominant


    You will get a tonne of info from the experts here, this place is an amazing source of info on all things coffee.

    Best of luck!

  3. #3
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    Re: Newbie roasting decaf

    Hi
    Thanks for the 10C hotter tip, I had not heard that one before.
    I just roasted a batch to around 450F, which may still be a little low, I keep worrying that I am going to overdo it, and I guess I am stopping a little too soon.

    Randy

  4. #4
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    Re: Newbie roasting decaf

    A few things Ive noticed. You can roast by color, you will notice that as they get close to done it evens out on the bean. Aim for a dark chocolate brown.

    They are easy to burn, and if you over roast them then you may as well throw them out.

    They can almost be drunk straight away. Day one is probably best. I find they are stale within week. This is actually pretty convenient as you can just about roast to order, ie if you know that some decaf drinkers are coming over. :)

  5. #5
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    Re: Newbie roasting decaf

    There is no chaff when roasting decaf
    I dont change my roast method at all from any normal roast profile and i generally stop the roast just before or at the first signs of SC

  6. #6
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    Re: Newbie roasting decaf

    Hi Randy, welcome to CS!

    Aromatics are enhanced with lighter roasts, body increases with darker, however both are ultimately reliant and limited by the type of bean. If youre ok with it, do an experimental batch for each bean type and take it just into SC so you know where it is, then do the next just before/pull at the very first snaps of SC as bolb mentioned for best general decaf results.

    Just like non-decaf roasts, decafs taste different depending on the bean. I have a supply of a decaf I cant get any subtlety of flavour in, very little in the way of aromatics and only tolerates one perfect roast level; and another that I really like that can tolerate different roast levels, has great body and can be tweaked for aromatics.

    With every new bean type (decaf or non) I do around 3 experimental roasts: one darker, one lighter and one in-between, to decide which I prefer for that bean type.

    For decaf, my roast colour is between CS11-12 (my non-decaf beans are usually around CS10). CS refers to the CoffeeSnobs membership card available on this forum via BeanBay, and the number refers to the panels on the card reading from left to right.

    Happy roasting.

  7. #7
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    Re: Newbie roasting decaf

    Hi guys
    Thanks for all the help
    I did a roast last night, and stopped it at about 440F (227C)
    Tried it this morning, and it was still a little bright. Think I still need to take the roast higher, dont think I ever heard 2nd crack.
    Ill try it again tomorrow morning, and see how it tastes then. I heard decaf doesnt need any rest, but for my roasts so far, I like the taste better the 2nd day then the 1st. 1st day is after one night of rest. After that, it does not matter, until around a week, then it starts getting stale.

    I know different beans will taste different, but the only and only regular roast I have done so far beats the 5 or 6 decaf roasts.
    I have used two different types of decaf beans, and I just got a few more to try.

    BTW, is first crack defined as the very first crack you hear?
    In this roast, it was at 400F (204C), then I started to hear many more cracks as it got hotter.
    Total roast time was 15 minutes, 1st crack at 11:45

    Randy

  8. #8
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    Re: Newbie roasting decaf

    Quote Originally Posted by 2B38373D202D2A2C3A31590 link=1248968083/6#6 date=1249102396
    Hi guys
    Thanks for all the help
    I did a roast last night, and stopped it at about 440F (227C)
    Tried it this morning, and it was still a little bright. *Think I still need to take the roast higher, dont think I ever heard 2nd crack.
    Ill try it again tomorrow morning, and see how it tastes then. *I heard decaf doesnt need any rest, but for my roasts so far, I like the taste better the 2nd day then the 1st. *1st day is after one night of rest. *After that, it does not matter, until around a week, then it starts getting stale.

    I know different beans will taste different, but the only and only regular roast I have done so far beats the 5 or 6 decaf roasts.
    I have used two different types of decaf beans, and I just got a few more to try.

    BTW, is first crack defined as the very first crack you hear? *
    In this roast, it was at 400F (204C), then I started to hear many more cracks as it got hotter.
    Total roast time was 15 minutes, 1st crack at 11:45

    Randy
    Sounds like any number of points need to be clarified and as many will say... While teh temps can help... they are not every thing as time and teh colour also come into play.

    As a quick example of 1st and 2nd crack, have a quick look at this page and the profile and comments..


    http://home.surewest.net/frcn/Coffee/Coffee34.html



  9. #9
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    Re: Newbie roasting decaf

    Just tried my last decaf roast again, and I think it is better then yesterday, still a little bright.
    Had the regular too, and it was roasted 8 days ago, so it might be past its prime, but it still tasted good to me. Smoother, but more complex, more body then the decaf.

    I think I will try another decaf roast tonight.

    Maybe because I am an engineer, I am trying to roast with more science then art, and I need to learn the art part of roasting?

    Randy

  10. #10
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    Re: Newbie roasting decaf

    So, I did try another roast last night, took it farther then I did before. I had 1st crack after 12 min, 2nd crack (I think) after 16.5 mins, and I stopped at 17.75 mins. I think the temp was 480f (249C). Seemed hot to stop it, but I was trying to take if farther, and go by color and 2nd crack this time.

    When I was done, I think I was around CS 11, but thats based on comparing to my laptop screen, so not sure if thats right or not.

    I also compared it to a commercial decaf bean I have, and it was about the same, and that was supposed to be "medium" roast.

    Tried it this morning, I think this is my best decaf roast so far. :)
    Not bright, nice and smooth. Fruity, and chocolate flavors. Good body too. Maybe just a little behind my normal roast, and I expect it to be a little better tomorrow, after more rest.

    Still have a lot to learn, but I am very encouraged by this roast.

    My temps seem high, not sure why, but I guess it doesnt matter as long as they are consistent (they seem to be), and I adjust accordingly.

    Thanks for all advice given.

    Randy

  11. #11
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    Re: Newbie roasting decaf

    Hey randy,
    Sounds like your getting some great results from that decaf!, well done, with your temp probe, the best way to check it is calibrated correctly is to sit the tip in just boiling water, should read 100 ish obviously, it should give you an idea, are your ambient temps shown about right?

    cheers

  12. #12
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    Re: Newbie roasting decaf

    Behmor Coffee Roaster
    Quote Originally Posted by 4145637A7A7F607778160 link=1248968083/10#10 date=1249471987
    Hey randy,
    Sounds like your getting some great results from that decaf!, well done, with your temp probe, the best way to check it is calibrated correctly is to sit the tip in just boiling water, should read 100 ish obviously, it should give you an idea, are your ambient temps shown about right?

    cheers
    Ive been too lazy to pull the thermocouple out of my popcorm maker, and into a pot of boiling water. At room temp, it reads about right, seems to drift more as the temp gets hotter.

    In a few more days, I should have a USB meter from Andy, and Ill be using that to log my temps.

    One thing with this roast, beans were oily for the first time. Right after I stopped, I noticed oil on a couple beans, and after a couple days, maybe 1/2 the beans had oil on the surface. I think Ill try stopping a little sooner next time, and see how it goes.

    Thats the thing with home roasting, it seems to require a lot of trial and error. Im also not sure how repeatable my results will be right now.

    Randy




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